Castro clarifies impeachment talks vs. VP Duterte 'premature'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 26) — ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro on Saturday clarified it's too early to discuss an impeachment complaint against Vice President Sara Duterte, but maintained her position that the Office of the Vice President's (OVP) use of confidential funds last year was "illegal."

"On the issue of the ₱125 million confidential fund of the Office of the Vice President in 2022, we must focus on the facts first and talks of impeachment are premature," Castro said in a statement.

The House deputy minority leader made the clarification after she said she will study ways to hold Duterte accountable for alleged violations in relation to the confidential funds – her response when asked by the media if she is studying the vice president's possible impeachment. 

Castro had alleged that the OVP spent the funds in 2022 even without Congressional authorization. She said there was no appropriation for confidential expenses for the OVP under that year's General Appropriations Act.

The lawmaker added that Duterte could be held liable for a number of criminal cases, including for alleged technical malversation and illegal use of public funds, and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

"We ask that the OVP provide a detailed public accounting of how the Php 125 million was spent. We hope that Vice President Sara Duterte will use the OVP budget hearing to personally clarify her position on this sensitive issue," Castro wrote.

She said the Commission on Audit had committed to look into the matter and to submit a report to the House appropriations committee.

Duterte on Thursday hit back at Castro, saying: "All she did was wildly and masterfully arrange some allegations against me and the OVP, which will all be answered once the probe is done and during the budget hearing."